Egin supports communities in taking climate action and living more sustainably – but what does that really mean? The term “climate action” can already be vague enough, but when you add “community” into the mix it can become even more confusing.
Here are some examples of what community climate action can look like. We are already supporting groups through our Peer Mentoring programme and focusing on some of these ideas, and we supported many more during Renew Wales. This list doesn’t include every idea, but aims to give you some ideas of what your community might be able to do.
Community Growing: Community gardens, allotments, and urban farms can provide fresh produce for the community while also reducing food miles and promoting biodiversity. Gardening together builds social bonds and is good for physical and mental health, not to mention the money saved on groceries! A high number of our Peer Mentors have experience in setting up community gardens and allotments, for example through Incredible Edible or Social Farms & Gardens.
Bicycle Repair and Maintenance: Promoting cycling as a mode of transportation can reduce carbon emissions and improve public health. Community-led bicycle workshops offer affordable repairs and maintenance services and could include training courses – giving local people new skills.
Car Clubs: Car-sharing schemes allow people to rent cars on a short-term basis, reducing the need for individual car ownership and the associated emissions. These schemes can also save people money on car-related costs, such as insurance and maintenance. This could extend to electric car clubs, such as TripTo in Mid Wales.
Borrowing, Swapping, and Library of Things: Sharing resources and promoting a circular economy can reduce waste and save people money. Community-led initiatives, such as tool libraries, clothing swaps, and toy libraries, encourage people to borrow rather than buy new items. The organisation Benthyg is working to create a Wales-wide network of Libraries of Things, which is a place where people can borrow wide range of items, from power tools to board games – there may already be one near you!
Reducing Waste and Upcycling: Communities can come together to reduce all kinds of waste – from food waste to electronics – and promote upcycling. For example, Repair Cafés, which are happening across Wales, bring people together to repair broken items rather than throwing them away. Other initiatives, such as upcycling workshops and zero-waste shops, can encourage people to rethink their consumption habits – or even to develop new creative skills.
Community public transport – Taking public transport is a “greener” option than driving – yet as many people living in Wales know only too well, a lack of access to regular, reliable public transport can be a huge barrier to living your day-to-day life. Between 2017 and 2020, the Connecting Communities in Wales project helped to started 24 local community transport schemes across the country, with services such as dial-a-ride, community car schemes, flexible bus routes and group minibus hire for local groups helping isolated communities to get around.
Boosting Local Skills and Education: Providing education and training on sustainable practices can help communities to take action on climate change. Initiatives such as community-led workshops, courses, and skill-sharing events can provide opportunities for people to learn new skills and connect with others in their community. For example, the project Our Bright Future helped over 128,00 young people to gain skills related to environmental issues – in everything from sustainable construction and food growing to campaigning, planning and decision making.
Community Renewables: Community-owned renewable energy projects, such as wind turbines, solar panels or hydroelectric generation, can provide clean energy and generate income for the community. For example, in North Wales, Ynni Ogwen aims to capture the power from the flow of the Ogwen river to produce electric and feed profits back into environmental and community projects in the local area.
Energy Efficiency for Community Buildings: Improving the energy efficiency of community buildings, such as community centres and village halls, can reduce energy bills and carbon emissions. Community-led initiatives could include energy audits or retrofit projects. Our partner, Severn Wye Energy Agency, is providing Egin with technical assessors, who can carry out energy audits for the groups we support.
These are just some ideas! Community climate action could be anything that brings together different voices from the community to reduce carbon emissions, change lifestyles to live in better balance with the earth, rethink how much we really need to use and throw away, or to help adapt to climate change.
Our Egin Peer Mentors have experience of being involved with, or setting up, projects like these – and more. You don’t need to have a fully formed idea when you come to us for support – the main thing is that you’re new to climate action and need help with taking your first steps, and that you’re making sure to include as many voices as possible from your community.
Get in touch with us today to find out whether our Mentoring programme can help you. You can also join our Egin Online Community (http://egin.community) to connect with people all over Wales who want to take, or are already taking, climate action in their communities.
Here are some links that might inspire you with more ideas:
Community action for the environment: from The National Lottery Community Fund. A report exploring lessons learnt from funded projects, with a focus on practical tips on how to spark, mobilise and sustain local community action.
Projects supported by Renew Wales – an archive of the Renew Wales blog, which dives into case studies of some of our supported projects.
Carbon Copy – Browse local climate action stories from around the UK.
Community Energy Wales – a not for profit membership organisation that has been set up to provide assistance and a voice to community groups working on energy projects in Wales.
Repair Cafe Wales – Local Community Repair Cafés – repair cafés are pop-up events held on regular dates where the local community can get their broken household items repaired for free by volunteers.
Benthyg – Benthyg aims to create a network of Libraries of Things across Wales, making it easier to borrow items rather than having to own one of everything.
Community Transport Association (ctauk.org) – A list of community transport schemes that were funded through Connecting Communities in Wales
Social Farms & Gardens (farmgarden.org.uk) – Social Farms & Gardens help with setting up a community garden, CSA, care farm, school farm or anything in between
Mid-Wales Electric Car Clubs (tripto.org.uk) – an electric car club in Mid Wales